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Who Should be the Next Congressman for South Dakota?

For a citizen stepping into the voting booth this November, it is not
sufficient to have an ideological perspective of the candidate who wants to
represent you, but also solid reasons for casting the ballot. For South
Dakotans and American Indians in particular, the 2004 election provides an
opportunity to send to the U.S. House of Representatives a proven leader
with a verifiable track record. Larry Diedrich is such a candidate, a South
Dakotan born and bred on the fields of his native soil, having spent a
lifetime in the state he seeks to represent, and who has honed his public
service within the very institutions that allowed him to intimately
understand his fellow citizens' needs.

Diedrich's American Indian policy positions are totally synchronized with
those advocated by the American Indian community and its associations.
First and foremost, Diedrich believes in tribal sovereignty, stating: "that
the government that is closest to the people is the government that governs
best." He continued "I will protect and promote tribal sovereignty because
it empowers tribal governments to exert their rightful authority over
tribal lands and to make the key decisions that will improve the lives of
tribal members."

On the subject of consultation, he is on the record as saying that "true
consultation should give tribal leaders a chance to offer input and
influence policy making decisions, rather than just being told by some
federal bureaucrat about decisions that have already been made." When it
comes to the BIA, Diedrich believes its culture must be changed. "The BIA
exists to serve the tribes, not the other way around. I believe the
innovative reorganization proposal of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's
Association, led by Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux, is
a great example of how much tribal leaders can contribute to the process if
properly consulted."

Diedrich's personal faith moves him to help bring a better life to his
family and his state and drives his deep personal commitment to social
justice. His dedication is apparent when he speaks: "I will work to make
sure that Indian school children in South Dakota no longer have to attend
crumbling, unsafe schools. I will work to make sure that the health care
needs of elders and Native American veterans are met, so that no longer
will the U.S. Civil Rights Commission report that federal prisoners get
better health care. I will work to create jobs and economic opportunity on
South Dakota's reservations, so that no longer will tribal members who want
to work not be able to find a job."

From a national elections perspective, both the Republican and Democratic
parties agree on the ultimate prospects for the 2004 House races. As the
GOP rightfully points out, especially following the redistricting efforts
that gave it additional "safe seats," the House of Representatives will
remain solidly in Republican hands and will most likely add to its present
margin. On the other hand, Democratic Party spokesmen speak of "holding the
line" and "potential" victories. Though nobody, especially those charged
with maintaining the morale of the faithful, will admit outright defeat,
clearly the rhetoric is more akin to whistling in the dark than about any
confidence in the Democrats' chances of regaining control over the House
this November.

As a member of the majority party, Diedrich will make an immediate
difference as he will be superbly placed to serve his state's constituents
including American Indians. Clearly, it has always been a struggle for
American Indians to have their voices heard in Washington. Though American
Indians are represented by their states' congressional delegations, they
are also represented by the entire Congress. It is thus important for
Indians to see that Congressional leaders are well versed on their issues
and sympathetic to their unique history and conditions. Diedrich's election
will strengthen the clout of the already sizeable Native American Caucus,
and as a Republican member, he will have direct access to the Majority
Leadership, the support of the party's agenda setting apparatus, and the
leveraged vote of fellow GOP colleagues.

Furthermore, there is a real differentiation in the candidates for the
House of Representatives. One will support the American Indians in South
Dakota in their quest for a better life with self respect, dignity and
opportunity, the other will guarantee a continuation of the paternalistic
welfare system that has so failed the Indian community. These policies and
the welfare state that supports them eat away at the fabric of the Indian
family and community, sapping it of its initiative and the traditional
values that had allowed it to survive and prosper for millennia. Republican
values of self-reliance, government at the local level, decent jobs and
strong families and communities mirror the traditional beliefs of the
American Indian tribal nations.

Diedrich has served in the South Dakota Legislature since 1996, where he
had a constant focus on issues affecting all families - agriculture,
education, job protection, and lower taxes. It was in this capacity that
Diedrich developed a verifiable record supporting American Indian issues,
voting in favor of providing grants to tribal higher education
institutions, voting for construction of a badly needed nursing home on the
Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, and voting to exempt it from a
state-imposed housing moratorium. Diedrich also co-sponsored one resolution
and voted for another which called upon the federal government to take
responsibility for the long-term health care on Indian reservations and to
implement a pilot project in South Dakota.

Diedrich's opponent is a candidate promoted by Emily's List, a clear
indication that she has passed muster and will carry on if allowed, the
extreme left-wing policies of the Democratic Party and its failed programs.
This liberal candidate recently moved back to the state to run for office.
On the merits of public service, intimate knowledge of the issues most dear
to the constituents, and a long meritorious record of public service, Larry
Diedrich is clearly the only viable choice before the people of South
Dakota and the American Indian tribes for their next Representative to the
U.S. House.